South Canterbury's Museum's long-term displays and collections are a unique resource for exploring local nature and history.

Red Admiral butterflyNatural history

Our natural history exhibition area has dozens of local specimens and a wealth of information about our region's natural heritage, past and present.

We house collections of local fossils, insects, birds, marine life and other creatures. Also included are collections of exotic butterflies, birds eggs and shells gathered by local people.

South Canterbury Museum staff will endeavour to identify any unusual items brought in by local people.

Mere PounamuMaori History

Our region's human history began with the arrival of early Maori settlers perhaps 800 years ago. The changes over time and how local Maori lived in the region are shown in our Takata Whenua exhibition area. Here visitors can learn about mahika kai, the seasonal food-gathering cycle which enabled local people to best use the resources of our land.

The South Canterbury Museum's Maori collections include extensive archaeological material found at a number of local sites as well as some early textile and craft items.

Timaru HarbourEuropean Settlement

Our exhibitions explore how, why, and when settlement occurred.  Bishops, explorers, runholders, and a steady flood of immigrants quickly began changing our landscape into what it is today.  An artificial harbour was developed at Timaru to service our economic needs, as did the infrastructure we have today grew to service the towns developing across the region.  Visitors can explore many of these themes, as well as the stories of the people who have shaped South Canterbury.

Collections include a number of early artefacts as well as a wealth of documentary items, including photographs, maps, books and archival items.

DressSocial History

Everyday objects from different periods of time help us better understand the lives of those who came before.

Social history collections also include items relating to local trades and industries, such as potteries, brick-making works and foodstuff manufacturers.

The South Canterbury Museum also has an extensive costume and textile collection which particularly features garments from the Edwardian era and later.

Timaru for me & youDocumentary History

The South Canterbury Museum holds extensive collections of photographs, documents, archival items and books relating to our region's history. This material is used in our exhibitions, and is catalogued and available for study in our research area.


Want to EXPLORE?  Why not check out our Collections Online